Online Dating Hazards

  For anyone who has done any online dating, I do not need to tell you some of the obvious hazards of trying to to find love online.  However, I will address some of these issues one by one and offer some potential solutions to avoid all the aggravation they bring.

The Picture

If someone has a picture in which they look unusually good for their posted age, the picture may be a lot older than they would like you to know.  If you are communicating with someone like this, ask them how old the picture is!   They may or may not tell you if you ask directly, so here are some things you can do to find out without asking directly.  If they have a picture of them doing something, or at a specific place, show interest in that place and ask when they were there.  People naturally like talking about themselves, and they are more likely to let slip the “when” if you ask them to talk about the event.

If they have a series of pictures, ask them in what order they were taken.  Pictures do not necessarily appear in chronological order on profiles.  Some people do actually look better now than they did when they were younger.  The idea here is to get a realistic idea of who the person is today and the progression of the series.  While looks alone should never be the only determining factor, they do and will play a part in your decision-making.

The Fake Profile (Married, Committed, or Otherwise Not Available)

Since many of the sites, especially the free sites, do little to screen people on their sites, we must be vigilant in doing our own leg work to investigate potential dates.   There are many, many men (and I am sure some women, too) on dating sites who are either married or in committed relationships.  So how do we know who they are?  Well, sometimes, we don’t!

However, there are a few things you can do to help you determine if the possibility is there.   One thing I have done, although it can be time consuming, is to search other dating sites with the well-defined search information (so the # of hits is limited to a manageable number).   I did this with one man and found out he had different categories listed on different sites (single, separated, and divorced).  This should have been a red flag, but this was actually where I learned this lesson!  I did date this man, who told me he was actually divorced.

As it turned out, he was not divorced.  He was actually legally separated, still living in the same house as his wife.  He told me they had filed for divorce, but since they were both looking for work neither could afford to get their own place.   Since he lied initially, I did not believe they were separated and getting divorced and broke off the relationship.

However, as it turned out, this man was telling me the truth and has since been divorced, and both have moved on.  This is why I say to people to ALWAYS be honest.  Had he been honest from the beginning, I may still not have believed him, but I would have certainly been a lot more forgiving than to someone who thinks it is okay to lie about who he really is.  Lies always kick you in the butt in the end.  The truth always comes out in the end, so why risk a potential relationship by filling it with lies?  If something in a profile does not add up, or there are pictures with a woman who always seems to be cut out of the picture – stay away!  Dating profiles should never contain picture with others cut out of them.  Everyone knows someone who can snap a few pictures of them for their profile. This should always raise red flags, so beware.

The Scam Artist 

We’ve all seen them.  You know those dating profiles you run across where they immediately send you their phone number typed out digit by digit spelled out in words instead of numbers or their email address typed out by syllable.  Men, if you are guilty of this – STOP IMMEDIATELY!  Ladies, stay away from these men.   Here’s why.  There are a lot of scams out there in which people either try to get your phone number to hijack it to make calls to other countries or want your email address to SPAM you, send you computer viruses, or sell either of these pieces of information to those who will do these things.

KEEP ALL COMMUNICATION ON THE DATING SITES!  These sites store data and can retrieve it if there is ever a serious issue.  Be safe when you communicate with strangers online.  If someone asks for your personal information right away, there is usually a reason – and not a good one.  Sure, they will tell you their membership is up, or better yet, that they are on the site for a free weekend, or any number of other excuses, but do not buy into these stories.  If it is a paid site and someone wants to meet you , then they need to pay for at least one month to communicate with you.  If they are too cheap to pay for one month of service, do you really want someone like that?  You should never be rushed into giving your personal information online!  If he has a true interest in you, then he will also respect your privacy.  If he doesn’t, then you do not want him.  After all, that is the whole reason to be on these sites – to keep your personal information private.  Be smart and date safely!  Your chances of finding your Mr. Maybe actually do increase if you weed out the ones you would not want anyway!

You Do Not Need a Man to Be Happy

  Most, but not all of us, want someone to share our lives with.  In this quest, we sometimes lose sight of some of the gifts we have in our lives already.  While we may want to find that special someone, the road to finding him can be long and treacherous.  Along the way, many of us have our ups and downs, we need shoulders to cry on and sounding boards to listen to us and reason with us.  We usually do this with our girlfriends!

As I have pointed out in the beginning of this blog, you need to start with you.  True happiness comes from within and no other person on earth can make you happy if you have not searched your heart and decided that is who you are.  Sure, there are situations that make you happy or unhappy, but true happiness is a state of being and not determined by a specific situation.

Think of all the riches you have in your life already!  You probably have a full life, as many do today!  You have your family, your girlfriends, maybe a pet, and many other things that make your life rich and fulfilled.  Sometimes when we are too focused on that one thing we are lacking, we forget about all the other things that bring us joy.

If you truly do want to find your Mr. Maybe, or maybe want to get married, keep searching!  But do NOT give up living a full life in the meantime!  Go out with your friends, have fun, make dinner dates with your friends, meet your mom or sister for coffee – make the effort!  Your chances of finding the right man for you are much better if you are living the life you want to live without him!  When you meet him, he will easily fit into your life because your life will be what you want it already (with him being the only missing piece)!

A man will always find you more attractive if you are having fun and enjoying your life. He will want to get to know you!  On the other hand, if you mope around and play “poor me”, then you will only attract someone like that, and you do not want that!  Remember, you want a man who fits your non-negotiables.  If you are living your life as you want your life, you are more likely to meet someone who falls in line with what you are looking for!  Keep an open mind when you are out enjoying your life.  Keep your eyes open, but never look desperate – men will run from that.  Be your authentic self and you will attract a man who is drawn to the real you!  Live your life and be happy!

How to Find Out What He Wants in a Woman

So far I have focused on what you are looking for in a man, and how to get this information out of  him on your date.  While you are focused on evaluating him based on what you are looking for, you had better believe he is doing the same!  Even if he is everything you dream of finding in a man, if you are not what he is looking for, it is still not a good match.    You need to listen more than you speak and really read between the lines of what is being said to understand what he truly wants.

If a man says that something is important to him, you need to understand that this is not going to change and you need to assess how you feel about that particular issue.  By the time we get to our 40’s, there are few fundamental things about who we are that would ever change.  We have already lived, learned and established habits, likes and dislikes that are well-defined.  This is not to say that things do not change and people do not grow because we absolutely do and should!  However, fundamental values do not alter all that much.  If you find through conversation that there are questions about how he feels about a specific topic, ask for more details.  If it is something that is important to him, he will fill you in.  He knows you are evaluating him just like he is doing the same with you.

So what happens when you find the perfect guy for you based on your must-haves and non-negotiables, but you find there is something he is looking for that you feel you are not?  My suggestion will always be that the key is conversation!  It is better to address what could potentially be big issues right up front before either of you is emotionally invested in a relationship.  It is much easier to deal with these types of issues now than to have them cause problems in your relationship in the future and one or both of you ends up hurt and broken-hearted.  I realize this is not romantic or fun, but if you are in your 40’s or older and you really do want to find the right one to spend your life with, do you really have the time not to address them?

For instance, if he feels that finding a woman who is financially stable is important, and you have been through several jobs in the past few years, your finances are a mess, and you are barely able to make ends meet, you do not want to mislead him into thinking otherwise.  If this is important to him, it will definitely affect your relationship in an adverse way going forward.  Plus, he will feel you have not been honest with him, which is a whole other issue.  In these economic times, things are tough, and everyone does know that.  It is better to be honest and have an honest discussion than to leave him disillusioned about who you are.

But when is the right time to bring up something you feel you are not fitting into his non-negotiables and must-haves?  The answer will come as the relationship progresses.  I would not suggest on the first date because you want to allow for time to get to know each other a bit so the other can make a more informed decision.  I would, however, suggest these issues be addressed in a timely manner before you both have too much time and emotion invested and end up hurt and disillusioned by dating.  It is always better to be honest with someone you are seriously looking at potentially having a future with.  How they respond and work with you through whatever the situation is will say a lot about their character and who they are, so it will be a way you can really know for sure if this is the right person for you.  If he calmly listens in an understanding way, and wants to work through the issue with you, you have found a gem, so make every effort to work with him to get to where you need to be.  Let’s face it, relationships are hard, and in these times in Internet Dating and economic hardship, it is even harder.

As previously referenced in comments on a prior blog post, I have recently read a book written by a famous talk show host and celebrity on what men want.  He makes men seem so primal and simplistic, and many men can be.  However, I would like to at least be optimistic in thinking they are a little more complex than this author alludes to.  As with most things in life, the key is good open honest communication.  You want to learn about him and who he really is just as he wants the same in return.  Be respectful of each other, your time, your hearts, and most of all understand that being honest with each other will set the precedent for all future interaction (as well as dishonesty does).  You want the right man to be in your life just as he wants the right woman.  Do we not owe this to ourselves?

Are Non-Negotiables Ever Negotiable?

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change.  Life is constantly changing.  We, as individuals, are constantly changing.  Our situations are constantly changing.  The point is that we need to reassess our thinking from time to time to make sure it aligns with our lives, goals, dreams and who we are. For instance, if you are very active, you may only want to consider someone who has a similar activity level.  However, if something should happen to your health, and you are no longer able to keep up the same level of activity, your non-negotiable of an active partner may now shift to align with your current situation.  A man who you may once have not considered ideal may now be ideal due to your new situation.  This is not to say that your standards have lowered, but merely they have shifted to better align with your present situation.  These men were ideal for others, but not you in the past.  Now they are ideal for you, also.  You have just expanded your dating pool due to an unfortunate personal situation.  The same thing can happen in reverse – a negotiable item may become non-negotiable due to changing life circumstances. The point is to make sure you are looking for the right Mr. Maybe.  The right one will align with who you are and support you in where you are going, no matter how the situation changes going forward.  Once you are together you will go through the constant change together and will need to keep communication open to stay in alignment with each other.

It is hard enough finding our Mr. Maybe, so we need to make sure we are re-evaluating our life situations and not counting out the many potential good matches that pass our way every day.  While we may always have certain things that will be non-negotiable, other things may change from non-negotiable to negotiable, and vice versa.  Try to keep an open mind with each new person you meet, but do not compromise the core of who you are.

If you are on a date and you are unsure of something – ask!  Do not be shy about asking people about things in question – this is important!  It is vital to learn this information so you know where to effectively spend your time in your quest for love.  It is not very effective dating quantity, if the quality is not there.  Date smartly.  If you are like me at this point in life, your time is valuable.  Do not waste your precious time on dates with men who are not ideal or carry non-negotiables on your list.  They will not be changing and you should not expect they will.  Date the right ones.  I know it doesn’t seem like it at times, but they really are out there somewhere – you just need to weed out all the Mr. Wrongs.  If you really do want to find your Mr. Maybe, you will.  It may take awhile, but you will find him easier and faster if you are dating the right men instead men you think will change or men who are not up to your standards.  Mr. Maybe is out there and he wants the same thing you do.  Be smart, because he will appreciate that you are!

Non-Negotiables: Our Must-Haves

While we should have many things we will compromise on, there are also many things that we do not want to, or should not compromise on.  These things are the core of who we are as individuals.  These items are non-negotiable, we must have them in our Mr. Maybe.  These items range anywhere from core value items to lifestyle items.  While everyone will have a different set of items, it is important to understand exactly what yours are, which is why I say you must start with you before you bring another into the picture.

Today, our society is very diverse and we should accept everyone for who they are.  However, that doesn’t mean everyone is a good match as a significant other.  There are some very fundamental differences that could cause serious issues in relationships, and could cause a lot of pain and heartache if not properly thought out and looked at totally honestly.  We may think some things are not a problem if we meet someone who we really connect with, only to find out later this very thing is a major source of conflict in the relationship.

To give you an example, I will briefly touch on one that has come up several times in my own life: Religion.  While I am very open-minded, accept and respect all people for what they believe, my Mr. Maybe MUST believe in God, have a relationship with God and attend church.  Since I tend to love all people and accept others as they are, it took me many years to come to this realization.  I have dealt with a lot of heartache because I didn’t honestly look into myself, and tried to fit other people’s belief systems into my life without realizing just how important this was to me.  I spent 10 years of my life trying to make 2 separate relationships work, without realizing they could never work for me.  Had I spent time with myself, as I suggest here, I would have realized just how much this means to me.  While this is only one example of what a non-negotiable could be, it does demonstrate how much time could potentially be spent on a relationship that is going nowhere.  Those are 10 years of my life I will never get back!

Many people with children will have a different set of non-negotiables because there are other people they must think about – their children!  When children are present in a relationship, it is particularly important to consider core values, how you want your children raised and what environment you want them living in.  This is tough!  You not only have you, but you have precious young impressionable lives you need to consider, also.

Another area to consider is lifestyle.  Are you active?  How active are you?  Is it important for your Mr. Maybe to be active, too?  For instance, if you like to participate in activities such as hiking or other outdoor activities and you would like your partner to enjoy them with you, you would not want to consider someone who does not enjoy these activities.  While there are times you may want to do things with friends and apart from each other, if this is a big part of your life, it is also a big part of your life your Mr. Maybe would not be enjoying with you.  Only you can decide how important these things are to you.  Your friends may tell you to compromise if you are not finding the right partner.  However, only YOU can decide if compromising a non-negotiable will make you unhappy and unsatisfied with your relationship.  If it will, then follow what only you can decide for yourself.

The goal for most is to find the right person and to be happy.  This is not something to take lightly.  Your life and future are at stake.  Take the time to make it the one you dream of having, not the one someone else thinks you should have.  Most of all, enjoy the road you travel to find Mr. Maybe.  Just because he may not be for you does not mean he is not a very special person.  Always acknowledge that in the men you meet.  There really are a lot of good ones out there, they just may not be the right one for you.  Keep looking, he is sure to arrive on your doorstep when you least expect it!

Negotiables & What We Will Compromise On

  Today, many people resort to Internet Dating as a means to find people.  Online dating sites offer one way to meet eligible (or at least that is the idea) singles in the age range and geographic area you choose.  Whether we go through the process of meeting our potential Mr. Maybe online, or by other means, a big part of the initial process is determining if he is truly a potential Mr. Maybe.  We already have our list of things we are looking for in a potential mate.  However, this list, whether in our heads or in written form, is not set in stone and we must evaluate each item separately.

Sometimes we think we need things in a partner that are really just wants, and not needs.  What is the most important thing about finding the right one?  Is it happiness?  Is it financial security?  Is it someone to do social activities with?  My point here is that we all have different priorities in our lives regarding the person we want to have in our lives.  Ultimately, we all do want to be happy, so in evaluating what you think you need in a partner, think about if it will make you unhappy if you met the ideal guy and they did not have this thing.  Is it a deal breaker?  Or could you be perfectly happy with him anyway?

An example of this could be you are looking for someone who has a specific type of job, such as white collar over blue collar (or vice versa).  Assuming he is earning at least an okay living, is this really that important if he is everything else you are looking for?  This may be something that is a negotiable item to you.  Were you looking for someone who does not have children at home?  You found the perfect guy, but he has custody of two small children.  Could you love these children and get used to having them in your life, or if this a complete change of lifestyle that you have no desire to make?  If you find someone who is everything you are looking for except for this one thing, you need to take some time with yourself and really understand your true feelings on that matter.  If you could grow to love these children and know in your heart you could handle the commitment of having them in your life and care for them for many years into the future, this item may be negotiable for you, even if it was not ideally what you wanted.

Great men are hard to find.  When we do find them, we do not want to pass over gems because of our own selfishness.  I am not saying  it is not good to want certain things in our man or relationship.  I am simply stating that we need to really evaluate what it is that will bring happiness into our lives.  We need lists as a guideline.  We need initial self evaluation to know ourselves so we know who we are and what makes us happy.  However, sometimes we can place unrealistic expectations on a potential partner, and miss out on the ones who cross our paths due to our “criteria”.  Do we really NEED these things, or is it just something we would like to have but could really live without and be perfectly happy?  Think about this so you do not miss out on your Mr. Maybe!

Negotiables vs. Non-Negotiables

While I realize that not everyone wants to find a permanent union with another, I am writing from the perspective of wanting to find Mr. Maybe, the one you could potentially marry.  In our quest to find Mr. Maybe, we go through many ups and downs, we mask our disappointment, and bravely trudge on.  We guard our hearts with an iron shield against the craziness out in the world.  We keep our faith in man mainly because we do see happy couples every day and know that there is some possibility of us having this also.  We have friends who have found their Mr. Maybe, or even “the one.”  And yet, where is our Mr. maybe?

As I addressed before, we need to do a self-evaluation before we even consider dating.  This will allow us to date more appropriately.  In part of this self-evaluation, we should look at our negotiables and our non-negotiables.  Before I get into this, first we should have these terms defined.

Negotiable

A negotiable is something that can easily be negotiated or transferred.  It is something that can be easily agreed upon.  In other words, it is something that easily passes our list of things we look for in a significant other.  It could be something we have in common, or at least have very similar views on.

Non-Negotiable

A non-negotiable is something that cannot be changed.  It is rigid in form and could be considered an obstruction.  In relationship terms, this could be something that you are looking for in someone that you absolutely MUST have.  It could also be something that is the core of who a person is and cannot be changed.  Either way, you need to really think about this one.

Going forward, we will consider both negotiables and non-negotiables when evaluating our Mr. Maybe.  Everyone will have a different set of criteria to evaluate.  This is why looking into yourself is the key to really knowing what you want in your Mr. Maybe.  If you have not done this yet, take some time with yourself.  Make a date with yourself, go to a coffee shop, or find a nice quiet spot in your home to sit down and really evaluate who you are, where you are in your life right now and where you see yourself going.  Write down the characteristics you want in the ideal partner you want to travel this road with.  While you may want to see the end result of marriage as a final destination, living life is more about the journey.  Who do you want to take that journey with?  Be realistic and true to who you are, and not who you wish to be.  It is critical that you are honest with yourself in order to get the best results when evaluating all the potential Mr. Maybes who cross your path.  Life is in the journey, and you want to enjoy that journey with the right man!

 

Women Still Want to be Courted

  Although many of the so-called rules have changed over the decades, one thing remains the same for women over 40.  They like to be courted!  There is a reason romance novels have stood the test of time and continue to sell very well.  From the time we were very little to the time we were in high school, we have been “programmed” by our families and certain societal influences from movies to basic social norms.

Women over 40, although they have grown into very strong women, still grew up in a time where chivalry and courting were seen as something to desire.  We watched Cinderella and Snow White, and were told our “Prince Charming” was out there somewhere.  While we have come to realize that there really is no such thing as a Prince Charming, we still long to be treated like someone special by the man we adore.  We are very capable of opening our own car door, pulling out our chair, or getting our coat on, but there is something so charming about a man who will extend himself to do these things.  It is almost a sweetness that has been lost on our younger generations.  It touches our hearts like that romance novel we secretly read.  Chivalry is definitely not dead to us.

As we grew up into women, we were taught to make our own money and not rely on a man.  We are definitely capable of that.  However, no matter how strong and capable a woman appears, she many times secretly harbors a longing to be treated like a princess and be courted.  Who does not like to have a man bring her flowers or send her a little note that is unexpected?  We want to feel special, and that is what courting accomplishes.

Many men (and women) are confused by the (so-called) rules.  They try to live by instruction manuals on how many dates for this and how many months for that.  Throw these rules out!  You are playing with your heart and you should be looking at each individual situation for what it is and not by a playbook.  Courtship lets a woman know you want her and only her.  It makes her feel special and appreciated for who she is.  At a time when women wear many hats – they make a decent income and have jobs outside the home, they bear children, they play chauffeur to their children, they take care of the household. etc. – being courted is one way a man can truly show just how much he appreciates the woman in his life.

Will some women not be as appreciative as others?  Surely, you may find some who insist that they do not want this treatment (or need it).  However, let me be clear here, just because a woman may (or may not) want to be courted does not mean she needs it.  Most women today are absolutely independent and can take care of themselves.  The point is that the charm of courtship is still alive and present, and will still be appreciated by the right woman.  We all like to feel special to those most important in our lives, so let’s not throw this part of dating away!

Dinner Does NOT Equal Sex!

  So you have had a great dinner date and the night is winding down.  There is always that awkward time when you have to decide how to part ways and whether or not you want to see each other again.  Some men (not all, and definitely not the ones we want to keep) take this opportunity to see if they can get you into bed.  My take on this is one of two reasons:

1) They know they will not be seeing you again and they figure they will get what they can out of you (users and players)

2) They just paid for dinner and they think you owe them something.

I have a few things to say on this subject.  Ladies, by the time you reach your 40’s you should have learned this lesson well.  Never, ever give in to the man who wants sex when he first meets you.  This rarely leads to anything good!  You will probably never see him again, leaving you feeling used and upset with yourself.  While he may be a master at making you feel special, you had better believe he is using this same tactic on just about every woman he meets.  You are not special is he does this, but just one in a long list of women he has manipulated.  If you are truly special to a man, he will respect you and never put you in this situation.  He will wait until he knows you and knows he wants a future with you.

On my second point, a great dinner and a great date does not mean you need to take it further.  This is a first date!  Some men feel that if they treat women to dinner, then she owes them some kind of sexual favor in return.  This could not be further from the truth!  If a man takes you to dinner on a first date and pays for the date, it should be because he wants to have a nice evening spending time with you and getting to know you.  Dinner is a perfect opportunity to sit across from each other and have a real conversation that will help you better evaluate the person you are on the date with.  This is beneficial to both of you.

Since many men have provider instincts, they usually will pay – even if you offer to help (and if they do not, think twice about the type of man they are).  Ladies, you owe them nothing and should not ever think you do!  Men, if you think women owe you something for a date, keep reading (my blog) for what women really want when they first start dating someone.  You should both be on this date for one reason only – to find your Mr. or Ms. Maybe.  If your intentions align with your actions, then the date will be productive in meeting your reason for being there in the first place!  The whole idea is to have a fun date while getting to know each other, and nothing more.  There should not be any expectations other than this on a first date by either party.    Sit back and enjoy your time getting to know each other.  Savor the newness and the possibilities!

No, I Don’t Want to Kiss You!

It is hard enough dating without any additional pressures and stresses.  First dates are even harder.  One of my rules, is that I do NOT want to kiss a complete stranger on a first date!  No way, no how!  I do not know enough about someone I just met to be any form of intimate with them, and that includes kissing.  First off, I do not know his oral hygiene, which is super important.  Second, gum disease is a bacterial infection and can be spread person to person via saliva.  I know this is not sexy, but it is fact, and I think about these things, as should you!

Men, if you just met someone, you should have enough respect for them not to kiss them or touch them inappropriately.  It is just not okay!  Women, you need to have more respect for yourselves and set boundaries to get to know someone on a personal level before you ever think of getting anywhere near physical.  Save all of that for a time when you truly know each other.  Isn’t that the point?    A good man will want to get to know you as a person and respect you enough to do that before he gets physical with you.  Do you really want that guy who wants everything right away?  Imagine how many others he has been with this way?  No, thank you!  I feel I deserve much better than that, and so do you!  I am not saying kissing is bad, I am merely saying to save it for after you know the person a little better.  What is the rush?

  I realize there are people who will totally disagree with me on this subject, and that is okay.  I write from a “lived and learned” perspective and your lessons may have been different than mine.  As I pointed out in my last post, a first date should be all about getting to know the person better, and be very conversation-oriented.  Now, if you do hold a different view, that is fine.  This is just my recommendation to finding Mr. Maybe.  Be physical too soon, and he has nothing to look forward to, so beware if your goal is finding a guy to keep.  Of course, I realize there are always exceptions.

Mr. Maybe is out there!  I would rather wait for him to arrive in my life than go through all the heartache with Mr. Wrong and waste my time.  Take the time to know who you are choosing to be with.  If he is Mr. Maybe, he will still be there.  If he goes away, then he was not the right one anyway.  Ladies, you need to set the boundaries and stick to them!  This, sadly, is up to you.  The right man will respect those boundaries and they will respect you!  You deserve that and nothing less than that!  So save that first kiss for someone special.  Waiting will make it a special and memorable moment for both of you!